Network installers, network administrators, computer systems administrators
If you enjoy tinkering with computers and wireless-network routers, consider this field. The business slowdown may have damped demand a bit, but it'll rebound fast as the economy picks up, says Laurence Shatkin, co-author of "300 Best Jobs Without a Four-Year Degree." Salary: $49,801.
Law-and-order types who enjoy working with people might consider a quick career change into law enforcement. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports some police departments take candidates right out of high school and let them start with just a few months of training provided by the department, while others require one to two years of police-academy training. $47,485.
This one's a great recession-proof career for those who enjoy courtroom drama. There's great job security as the courts must continue to function in good times or bad, notes author Shatkin. $47,275.
Clinical laboratory technologist
Science nuts who regularly watch "CSI" might want to consider this line of work. Clinical lab techs examine tissue and body fluids under a microscope and test them for diseases. This field is expected to grow as new diagnostic tests continue to be developed, says Shatkin. Entry into the field requires at least a two-year training course from either a technical college or hospital. $47,081.
Heating-ventilation-air conditioning (HVAC) installer
If you enjoy working with your hands, this job's got that, along with the satisfaction of knowing you're helping people stay cool -- or warm. You can earn the required certificate at a community college, private school or online (click here for a list of schools), and get started in just a few months. $44,814.
Computer numerical control
In areas of the country that still have a strong manufacturing base, there's demand for people who can program the robots that do much of today's assembly-line work, says Bryan Albrecht, president of Gateway Technical College in Kenosha, Wisconsin. "You need strong analytical decision making skills, where you can diagnose a problem in a machine," he says. $44,629.
Solar energy systems installer
This and many other "green" jobs are hot now, as the recently signed federal stimulus bill put billions into alternative energy and energy conservation. Albrecht reports classes in this field are filling up fast at his college, as a boom in installing solar panels is expected. $44,460.
Working in prisons can be stressful and hazardous, so it pays pretty well. Corrections can also be a good option for those who want to work the night shift, as prisons must be staffed 24/7. The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics report on this occupation notes that local and state prisons may accept high school graduates without further training. $42,795.
Security and fire-alarm systems installers
Demand for security systems, Webcams and fire alarms is increasing, author Shatkin says, because the price of these systems is falling. The National Alarm Association of America says training can be done in less than two weeks and costs under $1,000. $41,417.
People who enjoy tinkering with their cars -- and live near an airport -- might consider this field, which pays better than automotive repair. Unless Americans suddenly give up their love affair with cheap travel, this field is expected to see continued steady growth. According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, roughly 170 schools nationwide are certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to offer the needed training, which usually takes between 18 months and two years. $39,584.